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New York City Ballet: Bach to Glass

- Onstage with the Dancers

Studio 57 Fine Arts

Museum Quality Framing
211 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Mon. - Sat. 10 AM - 8 PM
Sun. 12 Noon - 6 PM
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New York City Ballet
Bach to Glass
A Musical Odyssey II
(NYC Ballet Website)

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Managing Director, Communications, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Manager, Press Relations, Joe Guttridge
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 17, 2008

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
Conductor: Fayçal Karoui

2 & 3 Part Inventions (1995): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Pianist: Nancy McDill, Performed by Students from School of American Ballet. Eight students (four couples) from School of American Ballet dance to twelve of Bach’s piano studies, Inventions, and Sinfonias, performed solo with focus and grace by Nancy McDill, just the way Jerome Robbins intended them to be danced, when he created this work for a 1994 SAB Workshop. The piece is lyrical and uncluttered, and, at one point, two couples switch partners, and the females seem to swim en air, as they are elegantly carried into the wings. At another point, three females walk backward, slowly and ethereally. City Ballet has sealed its future with such talent “in the wings”.

A Suite of Dances (1994): Music by Johann Sebastian Bach (from Suites for Solo Cello), Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Cellist: Ann Kim, Dancer: Nicolas Le Riche, Guest Artist. It’s always a great night, when a guest artist from Paris Opera Ballet joins the program, and it’s even more enthralling, when he performs in solo virtuoso. Nicolas Le Riche, an “Étoile” of Paris Opera Ballet (a title awarded in 1993, after dancing in the Company since 1988), danced with bravura spins, fanciful gestures, and frequent acknowledgments of Ann Kim’s exquisite cello passages. They were making Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Cello come alive musically and choreographically, thanks to Jerome Robbins’ 1994 design for Mikhail Baryshnikov. Mr. Le Riche has a most interesting face and muscular physique, all combining to drive the momentum. He’s curled on the stage one moment and flying en air the next. His grin was contagious.

In Memory of...(1985): Music by Alban Berg, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes by Dain Marcus, Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Solo Violinist: Kurt Nikkanen, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Charles Askegard, Jared Angle, and the Company. Berg's violin concerto was written in tribute to the late daughter of a friend, "dedicated to an angel". The music is divided into three sections, depicting her life, her illness, and her "transfiguration".(NYCB Notes).

In Memory of… is an emotionally moving and atonal work, much in contrast to the two upbeat works, danced before intermission. Kurt Nikkanen played solo violin, and Wendy Whelan was the transformed deceased “young daughter of a close friend” of Alban Berg, the composer of this disturbing Violin Concerto (Berg subsequently died before the piece was performed live). Wendy Whelan dances with impassioned urgency with Jared Angle as her lover. Her costume changes from pink (youthful) to white (ghostly), as Charles Askegard appears, a dark demon of death, in black and grey. When Mr. Askegard and Mr. Angle carry Ms. Whelan into the wings, she seems to fly into immortality, just as Berg’s score is sealed for eternity, thanks in part to Jerome Robbins.

Glass Pieces (1983): Music by Philip Glass, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Production Design by Jerome Robbins and Ronald Bates, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Performed by Rebecca Krohn, Rachel Rutherford, Savannah Lowery, Tyler Angle, Jason Fowler, Ask la Cour, Maria Kowroski, Philip Neal, and the Company.

Jerome Robbins took his music from Philip Glass’ Glassworks, using “Rubric” and “Façades”, plus an excerpt from Glass’ opera, Akhnaten. There is something about Glass’ music, that makes it linger in the mind, and then when one hears it again, even months or years later, it re-surfaces, as if it’s part of one’s psyche. Such an experience happened, as this internalized music began, and Robbins’ choreography is fascinating, riveting, and energizing. The ballet is set against a “grid” of geometric, small boxes, and that grid becomes darker as the dancers become more glowingly spotlighted. All the while, the music builds in intensity and volume, and soon female dancers cross the rear stage in “frieze-like” sideways imagery (somewhat like Robbins’ Antique Epigraphs). Earlier, the male dancers have been moving with the urban body language, requisite in Robbins’ West Side Story, fists clenched and knees bent.

It was good to see Ask La Cour again, magnetically dancing in “Rubric” with Savannah Lowery, and joined by Rebecca Krohn with Tyler Angle, Rachel Rutherford with Jason Fowler, and the Corps. In “Façades”, Maria Kowroski was attentively partnered by Philip Neal, in slower, entrancing motion than the score. Ms. Kowroski is perfectly suited to the angularity of this piece. It was at this point that the females walked in silhouetted highlights at stage rear. Akhnaten, with its percussive propulsion, brought out the full Corps, and the music lingers in my mind.

Kudos to Jerome Robbins, and kudos to Fayçal Karoui.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at